Client v. Customer: Who is the new consumer?
When working with people who buy from your dealerships, I’m going to make a guess that you call them customers. They’re the people who buy one of your products then come back every once and awhile for either a new product or to get something fixed. Recently, Farm Equipment posted an opinion blog detailing the differences between “clients” and “customers.” But why would someone analyze the difference between customers and clients in our industry? The answer is simple. It’s time for dealers to make the shift to working with “clients” instead of “customers.” The relationship that you have with a customer versus a client can be the key to taking your dealership to the next level.
The transition to seeing those you work with as clients or customers has been a long-time coming. As our industry is diversifying, we can no longer stereotype our customers or stick them in familiar categories. The shift to “client” entices you to create a relationship with those you’re selling to instead of making guesses to their needs. You truly know what they need.
First, what is the real difference between the two? A customer is someone who buys from your dealership without interacting with you. A client, however, forms a relationship with you. Author Gregory Taylor explains that clients ”are the people who research the product independently” and ask questions of you. Someone who believes that you are a valuable tool that can help them when making a decision of what piece of equipment best fits their business.
Building a relationship to turn a customer into a client makes you an indispensable resource. Not only are you there to help with current needs but also for any future purchases or repairs. As an expert in your industry, when you understand the needs of your client, you can better help the decision process for purchasing the right tool. The thought and care you take to help shows that you have their best interests at heart, instead of just the dollar signs. Building a relationship with potential buyers creates loyalty as well as trust.
Taylor explains, “The whole reason that I prefer ‘client’ to ‘customer’ is the implied depth of the value of the relationship. A client relationship is more than just a walk-in transaction for goods and services. A client relationship is a mutually arrived at relationship; built through consistency, mutual trust and dedication to mutual success.”
This success is continually improved through the last point Taylor makes. He explains that ongoing communication is key to continuing success. Not only do you want to start building the relationship, but you must also maintain it. Not just by sharing the latest news on product promotions but sharing information through direct communication such as an email or newsletter. This builds confidence that you’re there to support their business and continues to build the relationship we discussed earlier.
So, how will you move forward with the client versus customer debate? Do you think your dealership will make a switch? Let us know what you think in the comments below! And to learn more about this, make sure to check out the full article from Farm Equipment.